Soda.  Pop.  Coke.  Cola.  Soda-pop.  Coca-Cola.  Whatever you call it colloquially, carbonated sugar water has been part of the American diet since the mid 1800's.  Originally sold as health-foods, veritable tonics, a panacea; their benefits have been revealed to be nothing more than snake oil.  

I recently perused the soda aisle at a supermarket and was amazed at the variety of soda they stock.  Some of the more unusual ones boasted a new type of Diet soda, made with Splenda, so it's better now.  Some even touted vitamins and minerals!  Rejoice!  Finally they put vitamins in my soda!

There may have been 30 different SKU's of Coke products when you count 2-Liters, 12-packs, and mini-cans and multiply by Coke Classic, Diet Coke, Caffeine-Free Coke, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, Coke with Splenda, Vanilla Coke , Coke with Lime, and Banana Bread Flavored Diet Coke Plus Ginsing, Vitamin D and Coemzyme Q10.

I was tempted to purchase a box of TaB, I was like an archeologist sumbling into an artifact that I thought was destroyed in a great fire.  I didn't know Coca-Cola still made the stuff.  TaB has an interesting story:  It was introduced to the US market in 1963 and was originally sweetened with cyclamate.  Congress banned cyclamate in 1969 and instead, saccharin was used.  

In 1977, Congress moved to ban sacchrin also, they didn't but all products that contained any had to carry the warning, "Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals." Remember this?  It was also present on every diner table in a little plastic boat, on the little pink packet of Sweet-N-Low.

In a twist of sweetener fate, saccharin was banned in Canada in 1977 - so now Sweet-N-Low in Canada is made from cyclamate (banned in the US) and Sweet-N-Low in the US is made from saccharin (which is banned in Canada).

I always thought TaB was the first ever diet soda, but it was not.  According to the Wiki, the Kirsch Bottling Company launched a sugar-free Ginger Ale called No-Cal in 1952.  The Royal Crown Cola Company "RC Cola" released Diet Rite in 1958.  No-Cal fizzled out and died but was resurrected in 2005 by the INOV8 Beverage Company in 2005 with the flavors Cherry Lime, Chocolate, Clementine, and Vanilla Cream.

I enjoy a cold soda now and then over ice.  Everything in moderation, I say, even moderation.

Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

photo by Antoinne von Rimes

The Germans have a word for it: Schadenfreude.  It loosely translates as taking pleasure in other people’s misfortune.  I experience this gleeful emotion every time I watch a show like the CHOPPING BLOCK, NBC’s reality, restaurant, cooking-game show which seems to be a blend of the Last Restaurant Standing, the Apprentice, and that fiasco with Rocco di Spirito a few years back.

The Chopping Block is back on the air after suddenly being dropped off the schedule a couple of months ago.  I guess that was because of low ratings or something, but happily for me it is back on now.

I like the show, even with the over the top monarchial attitude of host Marco Pierre White, noted chef and restaurateur.  Chef Pierre White seems to believe he is Machiavelli giving advice to members of the de Medici clan.  Chef Pierre White gives basic lectures on the blatantly obvious, but it seems to be brilliantly acute advice for these contestants.

I do not know if it is the hot lights or the cameras that make people on Reality shows lose every ounce of common sense and drains them of the ability to think.  There should be a mathematical equation which states: As the value of the prize increases, the contestant’s I.Q. and ability to reason decreases, and this is inversely proportional to their greed.

I am constantly amazed at the dumb things people do on these shows.  It is beyond me why people who have never worked in a restaurant would want to open a restaurant, and who are convinced they can operate a successful restaurant.  I can cook a mean breakfast, and can cook eggs like the no one on earth, but you do not see me jumping to the conclusion that I have the knowledge base to open a little breakfast nook someplace and make a fortune on my superior ability to roll a French omelet .

No, what I just stated to you was how I am a good cook----eggs mainly.  I did not say I knew anything about cooking eggs day in and day out for weeks on end, dealing with suppliers, employees, banks, landlords, acts of god, and the government.  No.  I said I like to cook eggy things and I am pretty damn good at it — nothing more.

The people on these shows have not taken a true stock of their situation, abilities, and limitations.  Most of them would be better situated as caters, private chefs, corporate chefs, and backyard/weekend soirée chefs.

The cowboy world of the chef owner operator is a rarified world reserved for those men and women who leap tall buildings in a single bound, pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger, and would slap Mike Tyson simply because it would feel good.  The kind of people who become successful chef owner operators are more than often neurotic, misanthropic, angst ridden, demon plagued, narcissistic, ego maniacs who are just as likely to end up in prison as in front of a hot pan.

These creatures called chef owner operators are akin to the frontiersmen of days of old.  Those brave psycho bastards who did not go out into the wild to discover unknown territory, but went out there to be where no one else was because they could not stand other people.

This is not the caliber of individuals who populate restaurant Reality shows.  No, these people/contestants are acting like some guy who just got his girlfriend to pay for dinner and he now thinks he can be a pimp.  Well, pimpin' ain’t easy and neither is running a restaurant.

Running a restaurant is war.  Running a restaurant is like running the U.S. State Department in high heel Manolo Blahniks and carrying a heavy tray over your head.  Running a restaurant is what God plans to do when he retires.

Running a restaurant makes for very good comedy though.  Watching the Chopping Block is as close to Three Stooges slapstick comedy as it gets.

So, watch the Chopping Block, and thank your lucky stars you are not one of those poor bastards clawing for their own restaurant to run.  I for one will be home holding my side while I laugh an even bigger stitch into it as these unprepared dreamers try to catch a tiger by the tail.

Schadenfreude... damn good word.


AuthorAntoinne von Rimes
CategoriesHumor, Politics

photo by Antoinne von Rimes


This is an open letter to god, the supreme, supernatural being - or to whatever deity handles culinary matters.


Dear Great One:


I, a lowly human, offspring of Adam, request that you create a culinary fairy godmother, jinni, magical elf, or fantastical creature of your choosing to fill in the gaps, and/or black holes that plague the culinary world. My requests are as follows:


1.   I want California barbecue to taste like Southern barbecue. I want the same quality, taste, and awesomeness found in the South to be replicated here in the Golden State. Barbecue here sucks, and mail order Q takes too long and the best places in the South don’t know what the Internet is.

2.   The taste of all bad, retched food should last only three thousandth of a second in your brain before it morphs into the taste of cotton candy or bacon with only a fleeting memory of the afore-tasted bad food.

3.   I want quality Austrian pastry to be the standard for all pastry in the world. Sorry, French people, I love French pastry too, but you guys do so many things so well in the culinary world, whereas, the Austrians had to specialize in one area and command it.

I do not want to walk into another bakery in America and see the same selection of desserts, made in the same way, with the same ingredients, all tasting the same exact way. I want to bite into something new, and have my head explode with flavor and taste, and question myself if I was truly alive before I tasted this magnificent concoction of sugar, fat, flour and flavoring.

4.   I want there to be the equivalent of gourmet soup kitchens for poor gourmands who can not afford to eat at places like the French Laundry, Nobu, Fleur de Lis, Danko, and Le Cirque…. I want famous and talented chefs to operate an establishment where say for twenty bucks you could eat like Bernie Madoff, and enjoy the best of the best of everything in a grand dinning hall with free flowing wine. And this place should be wherever I happen to live.

5.   Every waitress in the world should be no less beautiful than Padma Lakshmi, and she should always give me her (real) phone number when I ask. Ok, that’s not really culinary, but I don’t care.

6.   There should be a global take-out teleportation system where you can get authentic ethnic cuisine from every country in the world within five minutes of ordering.

7.   Apple fritters should be as nutritious as broccoli, less fattening than water.

8.   Sugar should not make you fat, and the more you eat the fitter you get.

9.   Anything deep fried should be good for your heart.

10.   My favorite restaurants should never close---EVER!


That is a small portion of my list. I know you are busy creating universes, and making sure the cockroach survives anything thrown at it, but I would appreciate some action on my request. I don’t want to sound petty, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for.

I mean, if you can make a quantum particle be in two places at the same time you can certainly conjure up a little Kazoo type creature to handle the above mentioned request. I have faith that you will.


Antoinne von Rimes

Human being

Offspring of Adam

Patiently waiting

AuthorAntoinne von Rimes
CategoriesHumor, Politics
3 CommentsPost a comment

photo by Dave Koch

When it comes to burgers  I am a snob. I do not put things inside my burgers.  If you put things like salt, pepper, bread, eggs etc. etc., into your burgers then you are not making hamburgers you are making meatloaf…patties.  All a good burger needs is quality meat and some salt and pepper on the top while cooking.


1. The meat is everything.  The meat should be freshly ground. I grind my own with my handy Kitchenaid grinder attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer.  I use 7 bone in chuck (please cut the bones out before you grind), and round (London broil) or sirloin steak.  If the 7bone in chuck doesn’t have enough fat for you, then pick up a package of beef short ribs for more fat content.  Remember fat is flavor.  A lean burger is a dry burger.


2. I go to neighborhood ethnic meat markets for meat.  Here in San Francisco I go to the Mission district or the little Saigon neighborhood and buy my steaks for hamburger.  The quality of the meat is good.  Although, most places carry Standard and Select cuts, not Choice, and never Prime, you will save a couple of dollars per pound by shopping in areas where the clientele is more price conscious and less into a pleasant atmosphere and getting a latte while they shop.


3. Let your burger rest at least three minutes before you bite into it.  Remember a burger is just a chopped steak designed to be eaten with your hands.  By letting your burger rest you retain all that juicy goodness.


4. A thin burger is a wasted burger. Burgers should be at least a half a pound each.  Anything less than a half a pound ends up being dry and tasteless.  Unless, you make them the size of billiard balls, and then they would be called meatballs.


5. The best burger is a flame kissed grilled burger, but if your landlord is adverse to an open flame inside your apartment then use an indoor grill pan, and heat the grill pan until very hot before you slap that precious piece of meat on it.  Putting a burger in a cold pan to cook is the same thing as steaming it.  Hot grill pan, cold meat: tasty burger.


6. As I stated above, I only put salt and pepper on the outside of my burgers, but I use kick-ass salt and pepper.  I use gray salt and coarsely cracked black pepper, think, steak au poivre.  The cracked black peppercorns roast and release an intense earthy aroma, and when you are chewing the burger the pepper and salt kick up the flavor of any condiments you put on the buns.


7. Buns: brioche is my choice.  I buy brioche buns ( I live in San Francisco, remember) split them, butter them and toast them in a medium hot pan.  If you can not find brioche buns use Kaiser rolls, or slices of challah can work too.


If you follow my burger making regime, I guarantee you that the only time you will eat a fast food burger is when you are stranded in the middle of nowhere and your only alternative is eating your shoe, or a “clown” burger


Oh, last point, there is only one time when it is acceptable to eat a fast food “clown” burger, and that is when you are in a foreign country (outside of the U.S.A) and they call burgers things like: hamburgesas, or hambughars, or American style hamburgers.

You can always trust McDonalds to give you a safe, consistent, trustworthy product anywhere in the world. Use them like you would one of those iodine pills you put into suspect water while traveling.


Happy burger-ing, people.


AuthorAntoinne von Rimes
10 CommentsPost a comment

photo by Antoinne von Rimes

Summer is almost here and that means that the pushers will be back on the streets en force.  You can hear them clanging their little bells in their motorcars from hell, offering innocent little kiddies a fix of their favorite treat in a variety of addictive flavors.  While uptown their parents dart into chic gelaterias and get a fix for themselves.

Yes, I am talking about ice cream, that subversive cohesion of cream, sugar, and (if you are a purest) eggs.  The devil’s ambrosia designed to get you on the slippery slope to cane sugar servitude.

Ice cream seems so innocent, but it is the one addictive substance that no law has been enacted against.  It is the one mood altering drug that everyone refuses to admit is illicit.  And, it all began at childhood.  What is the one (I’ll bet the first) treat your parents used as a tool to solicit your good behavior? 

It was not cookies.  Those were teething biscuits: machine stamped, sugarless, starch slabs designed to alleviate incoming tooth itch.  No. The first true treat you got your little mouth around was a dose of the frozen demon dairy treat. 

It was soft enough for you to gum, and a familiar taste.  Familiar because they primed us with

AuthorAntoinne von Rimes
10 CommentsPost a comment

photo by Antoinne von Rimes

I am the king of procrastination and delaying the inevitable. I am constantly doing things in half measures knowing that it would be best to do things the proper way the first time. And the sad truth for me is that this weak will to do the smart thing the first time leads me to accumulate a mountain of second rate things in my life. The biggest pile of junk I have is ineffectual culinary gadgets.

And, I love gadgets, but I always tend to gravitate to the less expensive option rather than just plopping down the cash for the better quality option first. I guess, I do this because I don’t have a lot of money to plop down in the first place and I am always skeptical of how much better the expensive option can be over the cheaper alternative.

This is why I have a battalion of useless to ineffectual knife sharpeners at my house. I do not mean steels. I am referring to implements designed to sharpen your knives, but in actuality leave you with a slightly less dull version of the previously very dull knife you had. I guess in the world of cause and effect, and advertising a less dull knife fulfills the contract of a knife “sharpener”. It does not, however, produce a knife which I consider sharp.

I never thought of sharp as a subjective term, but I guess it is because to me sharp means having an implement with an edge capable (at a minimum) of slicing through meat, and vegetables. I have quality knives (Wusthuff Trident) and have tried several gadgets to sharpen them, but they all produced a slightly less dull version of my already dull knives. That is, until, I bought a Diamond whetstone ($40.00) knife sharpener from my local hardware store, and sharpened my knives with it.

Now my knives are sharp, really sharp. I’m talking Tarzan, Crocodile Dundy, throw a strand of hair into the air and slice it sharp. I do not know why I waited so long to buy a whetstone. It’s like when you make an embarrassing mistake and you are too afraid to live up to it.

Like, say, if you got really drunk one night with your wife’s kid sister, and you make-out with her in some dark bar because her mouth makes that same funny smile her sister’s used to before it started yelling at you all the time about helping around the house with dishes and laundry and stuff. And you know you should tell your wife about the whole stupid thing, but you feel that would be even worse…for you. So you don’t say anything and walk around waiting for the day that she will find out and you will be forced to confess.

Well that’s the feeling of having a drawer full of useless knife sharpeners and knowing you should buy a whetstone, but you don’t and you continue to deal, live and operate with slightly sharp knives. It’s an awful feeling. But, once you have bought the whetstone and sharpened all your knives, scissors, flatware, and anything with an edge you can get your hands on, you feel so much happier and relieved.

Kind of like how you feel right after your sister-in-law goes through her Twelve Step Program and tells your wife about that night in April of ’07, and your wife slaps you, hard, and kicks you out of the house. For that one moment as you stand looking at the neighbor’s lights go on at 2 am, and seeing them all staring at you while you stand frozen on your front lawn in your underwear, hearing a police siren in the background, one octave lower than your wife’s never ending screeching at you: you are blissfully relieved that you do not have that “feeling” anymore. Only, this new “ feeling” last only until your wife’s lawyer informs you that your underwear is the only thing she intends to leave you with.

AuthorAntoinne von Rimes

photo by Antoinne von Rimes

Eat more duck?  I don’t know why we (Americans) don’t eat more duck.  I just had a pan roasted duck breast with coca sauce, served on a bed of lentils with cipollini onions the other day at Citizen Cake here in San Francisco, and throughout the meal I could not stop asking myself why I don’t eat more duck.  I love duck.

Duck has so much more flavor than chicken, and roasted duck fat and crispy skin surpasses that king of fatty delicacies bacon any day.  And, I really love bacon.  But, duck is another realm of sensuous eating pleasure.  Duck is like an affair with an exotic beauty who barely speaks your language.  Bacon is a fling with the hot bartender around the way.

Duck is never mentioned in those poultry scares.  I cannot remember any duck recalls, bans, poisonings, or governmental white papers against it.  The only thing we hear about is the whole foie gras flap.  Is it cruel, or is it not cruel?  If I were a duck I think I would say it is cruel to force me to eat when I do not want to eat, but if I were a duck I would also feel the evolutionary need to stuff myself silly for the long flight South and would feel it even more cruel if my keeper did not feed me all I crave to eat.  Other than that duck is free from controversy (to my limited culinary focused knowledge).

So why do we not eat more duck?  Expense?  Hell yeah, that’s one reason.  Duck is expensive here in the States.  You may give the old chicken purchase the once around the brain and compare it to the cost of hamburger, but duck…that’s a stop and ponder this for awhile purchase.

Availability?  Yeah, that is also a problem in most areas.  You can’t just pop down to the market and pick up a fresh duck or duck breast.  Well, I live in San Francisco, and I can go to Chinatown and have them slaughter the duck of my choice for me.  If I was inclined to do that, and if my Cantonese was up to snuff to get it done. I assure you, I have not and it is not… so relax.  But availability is a problem because the only duck you are going to find is more than likely whole and frozen, and then you have to plan, thaw and wait.  Ok, duck seems really impractical now.

Treatment?  This is the last obstacle I see with duck.  Not the ethical treatment of them; although, that crosses my mind too.  I mean how should you cook it?  Should you butcher it and pan roast or grill the breast, and make confit out of the legs and thighs?  Or, should you break out the bike pump and fan and Peking that sucker?  That’s the dilemma.  

If I was Chef Gary Danko I could turn it into duck breast prosciutto, but there is only one Danko and I am not he.  If I was uber Chef Thomas Keller, I could create some dish out of duck that could revive the dead, but I am not Thomas Keller either.  I am just an ordinary cook who loves duck and cannot get past the Expense, Availability, and Treatment of duck in order to EAT duck.

If I lived in France, I don’t think I would have this problem.  I could buy fresh duck breasts, pay a bit more for it than chicken, go home and pan roast them, and use the rendered duck fat to fry some potatoes.  I could eat duck at will, and then ponder why I don’t eat more pheasant.  I’m still going to try and eat more duck.  

How about you?

AuthorAntoinne von Rimes
2 CommentsPost a comment

Several years ago, Papawow founder and foodtellectual extraordinaire Dave Koch loaned me a copy of Tampopo, the 1985 Japanese Western/comedy about, well, noodles.  I’m sure he meant well, but Tampopo ruined noodles.

I must admit that I haven’t seen Tampopo for many years now, so the details are a bit hazy.  The essence of the movie is the woman Tampopo’s search for the perfect bowl of noodles.  Various scenes describe the essence of a good bowl of noodles.  It all starts with the broth. Having made broths, stocks, and soups before, I am fully aware of the time consuming process required to make a deliciously savory, but not-too-salty broth.

The noodles themselves are another critical component – be they udon, ramen, soba (generally reserved for cold soups) or another lesser variety, the noodles cannot be overly mushy or hard.  They need to withstand the heat of the broth and the prodding of the eating implements (never a fork) without giving in, and at the same time cede to the tooth with a tiny bit of elastic resistance.

And then there’s the meat.  I have had too many udons containing an overly fatty, thick piece of ham. I’ve had tempura prawns with instantly-dissolving panko, revealing naked crustaceans in a slurry of fry.  Unacceptable.

The problem with Tampopo is that it leaves the viewer craving the perfect bowl of noodles.  I have not, in the years since my viewing of Tampopo, achieved satisfaction.  Unfortunately, my noodle experiences since that defining moment have left much to be desired.

Five minutes prior to writing these words, I consumed a bowl of noodles with dumplings – purveyor to remain anonymous – that left me craving something more substantial.  The dumplings tasted like poultry seasoning without the poultry.  The broth was empty, want of seasoning and excitement. And the noodles were flat, lacking personality.

One peculiarity of this vendor, which I have visited previously, is the over-abundance of vegetables in the soup. Rather than meat or fish broth, I end up tasting only carrots and sprouts.  Today’s noodle dish was merely a ghost of something that could have been.

Perhaps my disappointment in noodles is a regional problem.  I have not had a decent opportunity to sample noodles in Asia since my search began.  The exception was a disappointing ramen bowl in the Singapore Airlines lounge of the Hong Kong airport.

Incidentally, the best noodles I had since Tampopo were from a Japanese restaurant in the San Francisco International Airport.  I have spent many hung-over Sundays burning my tongue in a bowl of udon before departing to another place.  The broth there is particularly invigorating, and it magically warms my body and alleviates my ailments.

The tempura shrimp often end up naked, but with the appropriate level of care one can negotiate panko and crustacean in the same bite.  Despite the positive aspects of this airport miracle, it is still miles away from satiating my craving.

Tampopo initiated my search for the perfect bowl of noodles, and coupled with my search lays ceaseless disappointment.  One day, I optimistically muse, my search will prove fruitful.  Until then, noodles are ruined.

Tampopo in London

I stopped in my tracks one day when, walking down Fulham Road in London, I came upon a restaurant called Tampopo (  What a clever name for an Asian restaurant, I thought, but Tampopo herself would not have been pleased; this is not a noodle shack focused on the perfect bowl of noodles.

Instead it is a multi-location Asian restaurant, serving “steaming noodles to soothe, slow-cooked curries and sizzling stir-fries full of goodness and flavour.”  Sounds like goodness to me, but it does not sound like the end to Tampopo’s – or my – quest.


AuthorLoren Tama
CategoriesHistory, Humor

photo by Antoinne von Rimes

Halibut, I love Halibut so much that I eat it three to four days a week when it’s in season, and thank God it is back in season now. Halibut season runs from March until the middle of November.  The span in-between I call hell because I am deprived of the luscious white, sweet, meaty treat called halibut.

I live in San Francisco and people here go on and on about salmon and Dungeness crab, ad infinitum…ho-freaking-hum.  There is no salmon dish baked, roasted, steamed or raw that can come close to a basket of properly beer battered, deep fried, halibut.

The crisp, crunchy, golden brown exterior and the steaming hot tender fish inside is food porn to me.  I want to close the blinds, conceal myself from prying eyes while I give myself over to this unmatched sin.

A drop of lemon or lime juice with the first bite, and then a dollop of my homemade tartar sauce with the second, and I’m half way to being spent.  My deep fried Halibut is crisp and golden brown on the outside with white, nearly, luminescent flesh, shrouded in a mist of escaping steam on the inside.

My mouth knows it will be tender and sweet. It seduces me to take a bite. I bite, munch, and gorge.  Before I know it, I end the evening sprawled on my couch, flakes of fried batter clinging to my face.  A sudden rush of guilt washes over me…shame not too far behind.  I pick myself up and tell myself I will have more self control next time…tomorrow


AuthorAntoinne von Rimes
CategoriesHumor, Recipes
4 CommentsPost a comment


photo by Loren Tama

Someone somewhere at sometime decided to adjoin a phenomenal authentic Thai restaurant with a classic English pub.  I want to shake that someone's hand.


The pub/restaurant is the Churchill Arms located in London's posh Notting Hill.  As I sit here now, sleepily allowing my food coma to abate, I reflect on the sublime combination of spicy Thai, Winston Churchill memorabilia, and refreshing Albarino.  All this following five hours without food.  I lift the bottle of Pol Roget - Churchill's favorite Champagne - perched on a shelf next to me.  It is empty.  I don't know what I was expecting, but I don't care either way.  Right now I am reflecting.


This euphoric condition began with nothing more than toast, marmalade, and musli about 300 miles northeast of London.  As the drive back to London came to a close, the hunger set in.  The perfect answer turned out to be pad ga praw (one order of chicken, one of beef); kaeng kiew waan, or green curry (chicken); and the classic pad Thai.  With shrimp.  Spring rolls kicked off the feast, which was enjoyed by no more people than my tiny girlfriend and myself.  Halfway through the feast, two words escaped my mouth: goodness gracious.


I just experienced total satisfaction in a pub.

photo by Loren Tama

AuthorLoren Tama
CategoriesDrinks, Humor

photo by Antoinne Rimes

It's over!  I have said so long to Starbucks' coffee.  We grew apart awhile ago and only recently did I try to salvage the relationship. I want to say it's not them but me, but it's really them.  Or, I should say it's because of Peet's coffee that I no longer care for Starbucks' coffee anymore. 

I was so into Starbucks.  I had their coffee everyday like clockwork.  A venti cappuccino with two packets of Splendawas my order.  I was there so much the baristas didn't ask me for my drink order anymore.  They would say, " …and anything to eat?" 

I was Norm and Starbucks was my Cheers

Then, it, crashed into my life.  I don't know if it was the longing for something new, or the feeling that I just could not go on being unhappy and feeling like there was something missing from my daily brew.  I knew I was stepping over a line that most never cross, but I needed to feel whole.  

I needed to know that there was no other option out there that I was letting slip by because I was comfortable where I was at. 

That's how I was seduced over to the dark, intense flavor of Peet's coffee.  Like some exotic beauty with luscious lips and curvy hips, Peet's coffee-soul kissed me away from the frumpy girl next door: Starbucks. 

Starbucks coffee is like being kissed on the cheek at the family reunion by the pretty cousin you have a crush on, and Peet's coffee is like being French kissed by a naked Rosario Dawson on a deserted strip of beach in the Caribbean.  I could never go back once I tasted the deep roasted flavor of Peet's slightly bitter brew.  

After one sip of Peet's coffee, Starbucks' coffee seemed like a warm beverage for children.  There was no depth of flavor, no hint of far off lands and foreign cultures like there was in every sip of Peet's lovely brew.  Starbucks' coffee simply lay there and expected me to be happy that I was with it… no effort, no passion, only hype.  While Peet's coffee would grab me, feel me up, and then kiss me, as if it was saying, "Hello, baby, I really missed you."

In time, I went hard core and started getting my small cappuccino dry with four packets of Splenda.  The sweet taste of Splenda melded with the bitter taste of Peet's coffee, transforming my drink into and exciting mélange of flavor and seduction.  I tasted dark chocolate with cherry overtones, and the sweet bitterness of dark treacle.  

This coffee…this woman, dark and lovely is my mistress.  She is my passion, my obsession, and my muse.  I am merely existing in-between the times when I have her and when I do not. 

Good bye, Starbucks… pretty, dull cousin.  Hello my dark beauty, my love.

AuthorAntoinne von Rimes
2 CommentsPost a comment

photo by youcansleepwhenyouredead

I've been reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and to say the book is excelent would be to describe the Golden Gate Bridge "nice."  It is a true manifesto and a call to action.  Although much of the research he details in the book is still in progress - and often controvercial, it opens your eyes to contemporary theories in nutritionism.

Some of these theories revolve around omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids; both of which are unsaturated.  What has been known for a long time in the scientific comminity is just beginning to gain press, that "not all fats are created equal."  The American Heart Association even has a page on their website for children called Meet the Fats, going into the differences between Trans, Saturated, Poly- and Mono- unsaturated.

The media have made popular the evidence that omega-3's may have a link to possibly limit the risk of heart disease.  People have been supplementing omega-3's in their diet (usually in the form of fish oil) for many years and more recently, it seems that flax seed is getting put into practically everything.

What Pollan and much of the researchers he cites are starting to divulge is the idea that omega-3 suppliments alone may not account for improved cardiovascular health.  There is evidence to suggest that what is more important than an increase in omega-3 is a proper ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 (called n-6 and n-3 for short).  This ideal ratio of n-6 to n-3 is hypothesized to be between 1:1 and 4:1.

What makes this difficult is that the typical American diet is overwhelmed with government subsidized corn and soy.  The oils of which carry n-6 to n-3 ratios of 46:1 and 7:1 respectively.  What's even more alarming Pollan states that, "Nine percent of the calories in the American diet today come from a single omega-6 fatty acid: linoleic acid, most of it from soybean oil" (In Defense of Food page 131) 

That's a profound thought.  Consider this, if true, of all the compounds humans can consume, digest, and extract energy from... 9% of the energy in the typical American diet comes from this single molecule.  We are omnivorous and benefit from a varied diet.


Linoleic acid


According to the Omega-3 wiki, "Typical Western diets provide ratios of between 10:1 and 30:1" and they list the ratios of n-6 to n-3 of some common cooking oils:

  • Corn 46:1
  • Soybean 7:1
  • Olive between 3:1 and  13:1
  • Canola 2:1
  • Sunflower (no n−3)
  • Grapeseed (almost no n−3)
  • Cottonseed (almost no n−3)
  • Peanut (no n−3)
  • Flax 1:3

They continue:

It should be noted that olive, peanut and canola oils consist of approximately 80%  monounsaturated fatty acids, (i.e. neither n−6 nor n−3) meaning that they contain relatively small amounts of n−3 and n−6 fatty acids. Consequently, the n−6 to n−3 ratios for these oils (i.e. olive, canola and peanut oils) are not as significant as they are for corn, soybean and sunflower oils.

What compounds our consumption of omega-6's is that livestock and poultry feed in this country is largely made up of corn and soy as well.  A project completed at Cal State Chico showed that grain-fed beef had a ratio of 4:1 (n-6 to n-3) vs. grass fed beef which was about 2:1.  Ergo, there are even more n-6's making their way into our diets than one might be natural because they are coming from not only plant but animal sources.  

This shift in our entire ecosystem from one based on leaves to one that is based on seeds (corn, soy, olive, peanut, etc.) is pivotal in Pollan's manifest.  It tipped the ratios of fatty acids far towards the omega-6 side, but he also states it, "helps account for the flood of refined carbohydrates in the modern diet and the draught of so many micronutrients and the surfeit of total calories."

Joseph Hibbeln, a prominent researcher at the National Institute of Health, has done extensive research on how these compounds effect our health - and specifically our mental health.  He believes that much of our society's reliance on anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen are to quell the effects of too much omega-6 fatty acids in our diet.

In April 2006, Hibbeln (et al) published an article called Omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies in neurodevelopment, aggression and autonomic dysregulation: Opportunities for intervention - concluding the Summary with, "Ensuring optimal intakes of omega-3 fatty acids during early development and adulthood shows considerable promise in preventing aggression and hostility."

In December 2006, Hibbeln (et al) published another article called Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future research in psychiatry.  They suggest, "EPA and DHA [two specific omega-3 fatty acids] appear to have negligible risks and some potential benefit in major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder..."

From In Defense of Food, Pollan quotes Hibbeln:

"The increases in world [omega-6] consumption over the past century may be considered a very large uncontrolled experiment that may have contributed to increased societal burdens of aggression, depression, and cardiovascular mortality."

...I feel like eating a bowl of oatmeal now.

Authordavid koch
4 CommentsPost a comment

photo by Antoinne Rimes

I had that Padma Lakshmi dream again...

The one where she comes to San Francisco, and I accidentally meet her in the street. She is alone and looks scared and confused.  She asks me where she can get a really good apple fritter, and I tell her I know of a secret place where happiness is deep fried dough drenched in a sugary glaze.

She looks at me with tears in her eyes and asks me if she can kiss me.   I tell her yes.  We kiss, and we head off to this little place in the Tenderloin I know of that makes the best apple fritters in the city.

Imagine an apple fritter the same hue as Padma’s skin, and as sweet as a kiss from her luscious lips.  That’s the eighth happiness, the happiness of deep fried and sugary things.  It is the $1.45 Nirvana.

The Nirvana that requires no mountain climbing or chanting, only the desire to receive peace.   That is what it must be like to kiss Padma Lakshmi…nirvana.  Padma is my fantasy, but that apple fritter is available for a buck forty-five every day.

Emotional eating, maybe, but I am aware. I limit myself to one awesome, deliciousness every month, or I would never have a shot at the real thing.  Padma, I await you. Come to me.


AuthorAntoinne von Rimes



I just got back from a business trip and although I'm not the healthiest eater to begin with (I eat whatever looks good) things go downhill when I'm on the road.  The fact is, when you're in novel surroundings you don't know where to pick up a healthy bite - and that gets compounded by the truth that when you take clients out to entertain, you don't end up going out for salad.

Ever since the airlines stopped providing meals, I've been eating so much better on the plane.  I bring my own sandwich, mayo and everything.  The poor airlines were ridiculed for their food anyway, I can't understand why they're now condemned for stopping food service.  Now, you get what you want because you brought it.

At least most airlines provide snack boxes for a nominal charge if you're famished.  It's not like they're charging to use the bathroom or anything crazy like that... Wait wait, what?  (from ABC7 Chicago) "The CEO of Ryanair says he has asked engineers at Boeing to design bathrooms with doors that open and close only if you swipe a credit card."


Continuing on, besides bringing my own sandwich on the plane, I often carry a bag of nuts.  Crunchy, salty, and protein rich - nuts satiate very well.  I also always have some sugar-free gum on hand also to keep my breath in check.  101 Cookbooks recommends not only nuts but in their article Healty Eating While Travelling, they also suggest:

  • "I pack three apples and a pound of nuts or toasted pumpkin seeds"
  • Just add water products
  • pack a camping stove [this may be pushing it]


From Wikihow, there's How to Cook Food in a Hotel Room which suggestions such as:


I found another article about eating while travelling that I think takes it a little too far.  We'll keep them anonymous.  They recommend:

  • Stick to fruits that can be peeled immediately before eating.
  • Cooked vegetables are safe, but avoid salads.
  • Drink only bottled water.  Avoid tap water and ice cubes in risky regions.
  • Teeth should be brushed with bottled water.
  • Don't eat unpasteurized dairy products such as milk or cheese.
  • No matter how tempting, avoid street vendors.


Exotic fruits are one of life's grandest and most primeval pleasures.  There is nothing more fantastic than a fruit you have never eaten before.  Abstaining from unpasteurized dairy products?  A life without cheese is a life not worth living.  Avoid street vendors?  You've got to be crazy!  That is the essence of a culture's cuisine!

In my opinion, finding something nutritious to eat can be an adventure!


I shifted gears a little here from "dining on the road" to "dining on a road" but I have two tips I want to share.  Granted, I may have an iron stomach - but these are my cardinal rules I stick to while dining "a la cart" (street vendors, get it?):


"If the place is busy, people are not dropping dead from dining here."

"If you are unsure about the food, don't fill up on it."

Two reasons.  One, this allows your stomach acid to dispose of many of the harmful bacteria before they enter your lower intestine.  Two, if there's "bad" stuff, you consume less of it.



Authordavid koch


I am always on the lookout for a great hot sauce, or superior hot mustard. Strolling through the Winter Fancy Food Showcase in San Francisco, California in January, I discovered THE hot mustard. The name is simple and to the point: Mr. Mustard-Hot.

Mister Mustard-Hot has the brain numbing, sinus-clearing experience lovers of hot mustard crave, but it also has a great taste which brings out the sweetness in meats, and adds a nice kick to sauces. I put it on roast chicken, bacon, and red leaf lettuce, all sandwiched between toasted sour dough bread, lacquered with really good mayo.

I drop the mustard on the meat in little dollops so that when I press the sandwich together the mustard spreads out unevenly, giving me nice pockets of mustard, or no mustard in each bite. I like this teasing of my taste buds, hide-and-go-seek for the spicy bite.

Mr. Mustard-Hot puts those chi-chi French Dijon mustards to shame.

If you can find Mr. Mustard-Hot in your city, or anywhere else, buy it.  I promise you once you have tasted Mr. Mustard-Hot you will throw away that other stuff you call hot mustard.


AuthorAntoinne von Rimes

photo by idogcow


I've been a frequent patron of Starbucks nearly my whole life but it wasn't too long ago that I learned that their Venti size latte (Large) only has two shots of espresso in it.  

Note:  A hot Venti beverage has only two shots.  An iced Venti does have three, but I don't think it should even be called an Iced Venti because Venti means 20 and refers to the number of ounces in the paper cup - the plastic cup for the iced Venti's is 24 ounces.  They should call it a Ventiquattro!

So for 15+ years I've been ordering my Lattes in a Venti thinking I'm getting 50% more espresso than if ordered a Grande (Medium) - but I'm not!  I'm only getting more milk!  Their hot sizes follow a 1-1-2-2 shot formula for Short - Tall - Grande - Venti (Extra Small - Small - Medium - Large).

So I'm talking to a cool barista the other day and she tells me that the 1-1-2-2 formula is different for the Americano!  Those follow a true 1-2-3-4 formula for Short - Tall - Grande - Venti.  Odd.

I confirmed this on this Starbucks Menu Chart someone put together.  The chart also points out how many different ways there are to put these drinks together - and that your average barista likely knows them.  It reads like a glossary:

Breve - Made with half and half instead of regular milk. This makes it a bit thicker, a bit sweeter, a bit more expensive and a lot more fattening.

Organic - Some stores also have organic milk available. It'll cost extra, and they may have to go looking for it, since almost no one orders it (in my area at least).

140 degrees - No, this is not the newest boy band. If you find normal drinks too hot to drink, and want to save your tastebuds from a fiery death, order your drink at a hundred and forty degrees -- this is still quite warm, but not tongue-roasting.

Kid's - By Starbucks rules, any drink that's going to be served to a child must be no hotter than 130 degrees. Keep this in mind when you go cheap and order the $1.00 kid's hot chocolate.


Digging around, I also found the Starbucks Gossip site (unofficial?).  Some of the forum topics were pretty interesting.  Mostly baristas complaining about people ordering wacky things and people complaining about getting charged differently in different places.  This is from an entry in one of the forums:

 "I have no idea how to charge a single cup of french press because I was under the impression that we charged for the whole press [in fact, my shift charged a woman for the whole press just last night].

It's frustrating. Not to mention when I charge someone correctly and a shift or manager comes up behind me, prescreen's my screen, rerings up the customer and charges them for significantly less. Thus making me feel and look like a total asshat."


I'm sticking to my Tall Americano's.


 Starbucks Sumatra

Authordavid koch
CategoriesDrinks, Humor

photo by Loren Tama

I had worked on Fleet Street (London) before; in fact I spent four months working there last year.  I am, therefore, well-acquainted with the food options.  Somehow during my recent stint, however, I had thus far neglected my old Fleet Street favorite.  Here’s how I rediscovered it:

It was 12:35PM on a work day, and I was borderline hangry from not eating since breakfast four hours prior.  Lost in the frantic tasks of my day job, I donned my coat and absent-mindedly stepped onto the sidewalk, lacking an intended destination.  It was cold outside, and my fight-or-flight instincts drove my body to override conscious thought.  Steered by my stomach, my feet moved, one in front of the other, and pointed me west up Fleet Street.  Minutes later, my mind caught up with my body as I stood before my epicurean destiny of the day: Fuzzy’s Grub.

For you neophytes, Fuzzy’s is an English eating establishment whose bovine emblem attracts droves of hungry people (men, mostly) to its eight London locations.  The location I prefer has two or three measly stools in the window, but it is primarily a place to grab some lunch before hurrying back to the office to beat time and temperature.  Fuzzy’s is an eatery of choices.  Customers choose a type of roast meat, a vessel (dish or sandwich), and a variety of toppings.  On this glorious afternoon, my stomach said something like this: “roast turkey on ciabatta with stuffing, mashed potatoes, roast carrots, peas, cranberry sauce, gravy, and Yorkshire pudding.”

Upon arriving back at the office, I sat at my work table flanked at the elbows by two co-workers.  As I unwrapped my meal (not sandwich; MEAL), comments and questions abounded about the size and contents.  My male colleague understood when I simply relayed the famous namesake of the meal’s origin.  He proceeded to explain the allure to my female colleague, allowing me to focus on carefully unwrapping and devouring the wonderfulness.  About halfway through my tasty task, the male colleague glanced at the slop of turkey, peas, and carrots that had fallen to the wrapper.

“You’re never going to finish that,” he said.

“Uhuh,” I protested with a mouthful.

And I did.  I ate every last scrap of turkey, every drop of gravy, and every single pea that fell to the paper.  And that – that commitment, that desire, that satisfaction – that is Fuzzy’s Grub.


AuthorLoren Tama